Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
June 21, 2010
Priesthood of faithful alive when invoking Spirit on ordained priest
Three times during the Mass, the priest proclaims, "The Lord be with you," and the congregation responds, "And also with you." When the revised English translation of the liturgy is introduced in Canada in a couple of years, that people's response will change. Henceforth, we will say, "And with your Spirit."
To some, this will seem to be a quaint or even odd response to the priest's greeting. However, this is not a greeting and response. Why would the priest and the faithful greet each other three times over the course of a half-hour weekday liturgy?
They don't. This translation of this liturgical formula is being revised in order to clarify that this exchange is invoking the Holy Spirit on the priest so he may effectively carry out an important action.
Look at when this "The Lord be with you" -"And with your Spirit" exchange occurs. It occurs before the priest proclaims the Gospel, before he begins to pray the Preface to the Eucharistic Prayer and before he gives the Final Blessing.
In his treatise on the Holy Spirit, theologian Yves Congar discusses this exchange several times. The exchange, he says, "is connected with the presence of the Spirit in the one who has to perform an action (that must be done according to God's plan). . . . The presence of the Spirit has to be ensured so that the liturgical action can take place."
Later, Congar adds, "If the sacrament is to have, in the life of Christians, its 'reality', that is, the fruit to which it points, what is required is an intervention on the part of the Spirit, who is, in us, the author of charity. . . . The Holy Spirit must add his breath, his fire and his dynamism."
The faithful call on the Spirit so that the Lord may hear the priest's prayer, that the priest may proclaim the Gospel with the Spirit's power, that he effectively consecrate the bread and wine into Christ's Body and Blood, and that his blessing on us will truly be God's blessing.
When the congregation invokes the Spirit, it is exercising the common priesthood of the faithful. As the Second Vatican Council made clear and emphasized strongly, the priesthood of all the faithful is the basic priesthood. The ordination of a relatively small number of men to the ministerial priesthood is so that they may serve and build up that common priesthood.
The faithful are not passive bystanders at the celebration of the Eucharist. They share in offering the Eucharistic sacrifice. The common priesthood is a real sharing in Christ's eternal priesthood, albeit of a different type than that of the ministerial priests.
When the faithful call on the Lord three times during the Mass to be with the ordained priest as he performs a crucial liturgical action, that is one way of exercising that common priesthood.
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